At AccessWorld July is the time of year when we think, "Back to School.” A new school year is on the horizon, bringing new classes, instructors, class projects, presentations, tests, and people. This year you might even be starting at new school or moving away to college.

The thought of all of these challenges might bring about a feeling of uncertainty. But that's not necessarily a bad thing! Expanding your comfort zone, learning new ways of accomplishing tasks, finding and using new resources to your best advantage, upping your interpersonal communication and orientation and mobility skills, and taking it upon yourself to become more independent and responsible can all be very rewarding. This is true now, when you're a student, and will remain true in the future, as you advance along your career path.

This time of year can be exciting, too, especially if you prepare in advance. Pursuing an education can be difficult under the best of circumstances and doing so as a person with vision loss can increase the challenge.

For all of the students in our readership: you must take personal responsibility for your education, and you must be your own advocate. It is very important to prepare in advance, speak to your instructors, and tell those you'll be working with exactly what types of accommodations will best meet your needs. Your education will have a tremendous impact on every aspect of the rest of your life, so it's crucial that you do everything you can to get the most out of your studies.

Good planning prevents poor performance! It's never too early to begin planning for the next school term, whether you're in elementary school or graduate school. Acquiring and learning to use the mainstream and access technology that best suits your situation, registering as early as possible for classes, obtaining reading lists, and searching out accessible formats should all be done as soon as you can. You will also want to contact the student services office at your school to find out what types of support or resources may be available to you. Waiting until the last minute is a recipe for disaster.

With our annual Back to School issue, the AccessWorld team once again focuses on providing valuable information and resources for students, parents, teachers, and professionals in the vision loss field to help make educational pursuits less stressful and more enjoyable. We are excited to bring you the information in this issue, and we sincerely hope you will find it useful.

Be sure to check out past "Back to School" issues from AccessWorld. The July issues of 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 all contain information that can still be pertinent today.

We on the AccessWorld team wish you good luck and good planning as you head back to school!


Lee Huffman

AccessWorld Editor-in-Chief

American Foundation for the Blind

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